Ninth time not a charm for unions

The MSAR Legislative Assembly (pictured) rejected for the ninth time a union law proposal, despite complaints from several legislators relating to the government’s delay in legislating a right that is included in the Basic Law.
The Macau Basic Law states in its 27th article that local residents enjoy the “freedom to organise and participate in union and strike associations,” however this right has never been regulated.
Since the handover to the Mainland in 1999, luso-descendent legislator José Pereira Coutinho has made several proposals regarding this issue, as have some representatives of workers associations.
As on previous occasions, the AL did not approve the bill, with exactly the same number of votes as the last two proposals on the subject: of the 33 members of the AL, 12 voted in favour and 15 against.
Although the majority voted against the proposal, it was legislators who supported the idea that most asked to speak.
“This right is included in the Basic Law. If we can’t produce a Trade Union Law, what are the consequences? […] Due to the lack of a Trade Union Law, we are avoiding certain matters, namely collective bargaining,” lamented Ella Lei Cheng I.
Sulu Sou, from the pro-democratic camp, recalled that this is a matter on which international organisations have been putting pressure on Macau, with the government “pushing away the responsibility” saying there is “no consensus in society” on the issue.
“Why is the business sector so afraid? The Trade Union Law is not an instrument to be used by the labour force to generate conflicts, to threaten the boss, it is to promote an opportunity for conversation between both sides,” he said.
At the end of last year, the government announced the launch of a public tender to award a study on the conditions for the regulation of a Trade Union Law, with the study expected to only be completed by the middle of 2018.